Sen. Graham on Healthcare Bill: 'We're Stuck'

Proposed Louisiana budget 'stems' higher ed bleeding

It's also unclear when Senate Republicans will introduce legislative text, which reveals the devil in the details and will likely only spark more controversy and dissent.

In any case, there are a number of steps to go before any Obamacare replacement reaches President Donald Trump's desk. At this rate, the prospects of passage in the upper chamber appear slim at best. The issue splits the 20 Republican senators who come from states that expanded Medicaid and the 32 that do not.

Senators say they also face pressure to move forward as several insurers have pulled out of the ACA marketplaces for next year - most recently in OH, where Anthem's decision to withdraw from the Obamacare exchange likely leaves 20 counties without an insurance provider selling plans for 2018. "And when they passed the bill, they knew full well that the cost of it - $400 billion - was more than double the cost of the entire general fund of the state of California".

The House GOP proposal also would eliminate a Senate-proposed pay raise for 38,000 state workers.

"I would support short-term measures that stabilize markets and give us time", said Republican Sen.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who has been vocal about protecting people with pre-existing health conditions, offered support for the bill.

"Of course, it's not everything I want", Cassidy said of the general talks, "but that's life". We're still looking at those key goals and how to get there.

Later Tuesday, Trump will have dinner with Sens.

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Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who has been a fierce advocate of more slowly phasing out Medicaid expansion than the House's repeal bill did, said the health care bill "needs some work still for me".

And while Republicans sounded more optimistic about the bill's chances coming out of the lunch meeting than going into it, many said they still had a long ways to go.

"While we do have a press assistant opening in the Communications Department, Senator Graham has not applied and should not make public statements on behalf of Senator Rand Paul", the spokesman said in an email to Bloomberg BNA.

A spokesman for Paul said the senator hopes the bill "can be improved in the days ahead and is keeping an open mind".

Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) agreed with that but is anxious that Senate leaders could bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote without the necessary number of votes to pass it, which was discussed on Tuesday afternoon on the Senate side.

Most members wouldn't get into details about what actually is on the table, but they were honest that there are still sticking points here that have to be resolved.

A few senators are wary of getting rid of the expansion at all, even on a slower timeline.

Asked if she wanted to keep ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion, centrist Sen. James E. Risch, Idaho Republican, told reporters.

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Pressed to elaborate, a spokesperson said: "Senator Murkowski has been hearing from people all over the state, including hospitals, providers, disability advocates, and the State legislature that it has been a large net positive for Alaska".

Cassidy said the protections for people with pre-existing conditions were a big factor for him, as well as the slower rollback of the Medicaid expansion, which has helped states like his insure more people nearly entirely on the federal government's dime. No Democrat is expected to vote for the GOP plan.

Senate leadership's proposal would allow states to waive the health law's plan design requirements, known as essential health benefits, but not its pricing rules, according to a Republican staffer. Last Thursday, the liberal California state Senate voted to support a plan calling for the enactment of a single-payer system.

"All of these discussions are intense", Hatch said.

McConnell told Trump an Obamacare repeal vote could happen before July 4th, CNN reports.

Senator John Thune (R-SD), a GOP leader, said, "We're at the point where we have to start making decisions".

The president hosted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other top Capitol Hill Republicans as he tries to fire up his stalled agenda, increasingly sidelined by Russian Federation and other controversies.

- Rachel Roubein, Jessie Hellmann and Nathaniel Weixel contributed.

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